Baseball scouts have called him the fastest man in baseball. At any level. And we bet you’ve never heard of him unless die hard MLB fan or one of the Class-A Bakersfield Blaze. Billy Hamilton, 6-foot-1 160-pounder, prospect of the Cincinnati Reds came into Monday night with 98 stolen bases on 119 attempts in only 77 games. He finished the night stealing two bases to reach the 100th mark.
Quite impressive when you consider a quarter century has passed since Vince Coleman, the last man to eclipse the century mark in the bigs, stole 109 bases for the St. Louis Cardinals. And Hamilton is well ahead of Coleman’s record for the most stolen bases in a season at any level, 145, set in 1983 with the Class-A Macon Redbirds.
“If I ran a (40-yard-dash) time, it wouldn’t be as fast as how fast I run when I’m stealing a base,” said the Taylorsville, Miss., native, who spurned a football scholarship to Mississippi State to sign with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. “I’m more of a game-situation guy.”
Hamilton led all professional baseball players in stolen bases last year with 103. This season, his 100 stolen bases are 45 more than anyone else, at any level of professional baseball.
To add to Hamilton’s lore he also shares the same name as former Boston Beaneaters Billy Hamilton who played in the 19th century, and sits third on the MLB list of all-time leaders in stolen bases behind the likes of Rickey Henderson (1,406), Lou Brock (938).